New Jersey voters went to the polls on Nov. 6, and, in addition to voting for federal, state and local officials, most had the opportunity to elect members of their local boards of education.
In 529 New Jersey school districts, the Annual School Election takes place in November. This year, 1,566 board of education positions were on the ballot statewide. In addition, voters in 25 school districts acted on ballot proposals, ranging from construction bond issues, to requests to increase the local tax levy above the state’s 2 percent cap, to proposed changes in composition of the local school board.
In Newark and Paterson, where the state has recently returned control of the schools to the local community, voters overwhelmingly elected to become “Type II” school districts, which have elected, rather than mayor-appointed, boards of education. The Camden City school district, which remains under state control, voted to change from being a Type I district to a Type II district.
Beginning in 2012, communities were permitted to change the date of their annual school board elections from April to November. Over 90 percent of school districts now conduct November elections. Only 14 school districts hold their annual elections in April. (In addition, there are 40 districts in which school board members are appointed by the mayor or the county board of freeholders.)
RATE OF CANDIDACY
This year, 2,099 candidates filed petitions to run for the 1,566 school board positions on the ballot. This represented a slight change from 2017, when 2,046 candidates filed petitions to run for the 1,590 school board positions on the ballot. The ratio of candidates per open seat was up slightly in the 2018 election, at approximately 1.34, which is up from 1.29 candidates per available seat in 2017.
In 2016, the ratio was 1.29 candidates per seat, according to data gathered from the state’s 21 county clerks. In 2011, the last year in which all board member elections were held in April, there were 1.44 candidates for each available seat.
School boards may place special questions on the November election ballot, and this year 25 districts did so.
- 14 school boards asked voters to approve funding beyond the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap for specific items.
- Six boards asked voters to approve borrowing for school construction projects.
- Five boards of education faced other questions, including proposals to change the size of the board of education, and asking voters to decide if the district should be a Type 1 (mayor-appointed board) or Type 2 (community-elected board) school district.
Tax Levy Questions School boards may place questions on the ballot asking voters to approve spending outside of the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap. The question must state if the additional revenue sought would represent a permanent or a one-time increase in the district’s tax levy. The 14 districts with tax levy questions included:
Ho-Ho-Kus (Bergen County)—REJECTED—$450,000 to restore co-curricular clubs and athletics that have been eliminated from the budget, hire an additional teacher, hire a security aide, and pay for technology equipment costs and the board’s STEAM program. Approval would have resulted in a permanent increase to the district’s tax levy.
Saddle Brook (Bergen County) —APPROVED— $450,000 to provide school facility security, including security vestibules at Middle/High School, Franklin School, Long Memorial School and Washington School and districtwide enhancement of the emergency notification system with automatic announcements and calling, exterior warning strobes, wireless door locks, a new two-way radio system, and supplies for classrooms. Approval will not result in a permanent increase to the district’s tax levy.
Waldwick (Bergen County) —APPROVED— $625,000 for a new entrance at Crescent and select high school doors, reconfiguration of Traphagen main office entrance, installation of access control on high school/middle school, Traphagen and Crescent exterior doors, installation of 3M shatterproof film on select windows and doors on all three campuses. Approval will not result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Stratford (Camden County)—APPROVED— $76,000 for two school resource officers. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Caldwell-West Caldwell (Essex County) —APPROVED— $600,000 to employ additional personnel and acquire additional supplies in order to implement a full-day kindergarten program. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Verona (Essex County) —BOTH QUESTIONS APPROVED—
Proposal 1: $215,000 for the expansion of the existing kindergarten program to a full-day program. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Proposal 2: $550,000 for the expansion of mental health programming. The levy will provide for three mental health clinicians and will increase the child study team staffing. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
South Harrison (Gloucester County) —APPROVED— $120,000 to enhance school security through the upgrade of the phone system and wireless infrastructure, purchase of school emergency response equipment, visitor management hardware and software, and various facility improvements that enhance school security. Approval will not result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Manalapan-Englishtown (Monmouth County)—REJECTED— $160,000 to install impact-resistant window safety film at all of the district schools. Approval would not have resulted in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Matawan-Aberdeen (Monmouth County) —REJECTED— $400,000 to hire up to six Class III police officers (Aberdeen/Matawan) and one school resource officer (Aberdeen) with an anticipated start date of Feb. 1, 2019 or sooner subject to hiring procedures, to provide additional security during normal school day hours. Approval would have resulted in a permanent tax increase in the district’s tax levy.
Florham Park (Morris County) —APPROVED— $120,000 to enhance the district’s school security program, to provide for a shared services agreement between the Florham Park Board of Education and the Borough of Florham Park to hire three Class III Special Law Enforcement Officers. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Netcong (Morris County) —BOTH QUESTIONS REJECTED—
Proposal 1: $33,000 to hire a part-time social worker for the purpose of students’ social, emotional and mental well-being. Approval would have resulted in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Proposal 2: $35,000 to hire a Class III officer for the purpose of securing the school grounds. Approval would have resulted in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Jackson (Ocean County) —APPROVED— $411,611 for the expansion of the existing school security program, including funding for six new full-time school security officers. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Point Pleasant Borough (Ocean County) —APPROVED— $198,000 to provide four full-time municipal police officers to provide security at all four schools during the normal school day. Approval will result in a permanent increase in the district’s tax levy.
Quinton Township (Salem County)—REJECTED— $64,000 for two buses to provide courtesy busing to students outside the Quinton “Village Area,” and within two miles. Approval would have resulted in a permanent tax increase in the district’s tax levy.
The annual school election also serves as one of five dates during the year when school boards may ask voters to approve school construction proposals. On November 6, voters in six school districts decided proposed school construction questions. Under the Educational Facilities and Construction and Financing Act of 2000, the state will fund at least 40 percent of eligible school construction costs through annual debt service aid.
Statewide amount proposed – $240,757,742
State funding proposed– $54,053,648 (State reimbursement through annual debt service aid equaling at least 40 percent of eligible costs)
Nutley (Essex County) —BOTH QUESTIONS REJECTED—
Proposal 1: Construction of additions, renovations, alterations and improvements at John H. Walker Middle School, Washington Elementary School and Yantacaw Elementary School and renovations, alterations and improvements at Nutley High School.
Total amount: $56,825,000
State funds: $8,268,815
Proposal 2: (Contingent upon voter approval of Proposal 1) Construction of additions, renovations, alterations and improvements at Washington Elementary School, Yantacaw Elementary School and Nutley High School.
Total amount: $10,150,000
State funds: $737,936
West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional (Mercer County) —APPROVED— Renovations, alterations and improvements and to construct an addition at High School North, High School South, Community Middle School, Grover Middle School, and Wicoff Elementary School, and renovations, alterations and improvements at Dutch Neck Elementary School, Maurice Hawk Elementary School, Millstone River Elementary School, Town Center Elementary School and Village Elementary School.
Total amount: $114,875,000
State funds: $25,770,084
Keyport (Monmouth County) —APPROVED—Renovations, alterations, upgrades and improvements at Keyport High School and Keyport Central School
Total amount: $16,756,032
State funds: $6,481,179
Monmouth Regional High School (Monmouth County)—APPROVED—Renovations, replacement of HVAC systems, replacement of windows, toilet room upgrades, upgrades to auditorium, floor replacements, electrical upgrades, roof replacement, auxiliary gym addition, track upgrades, construct new athletic fields, acquisition and installation of new photovoltaic system.
Total amount: $22,386,875
State funds: $4,889,700
Upper Freehold Regional (Monmouth County)—APPROVED—Roof replacements and restoration, generator installation at Newell Elementary Schools, roof replacements and restoration, and auditorium renovations at Allentown High School.
Total amount: $7,184,835
State funds: $2,873,934
Brick Township (Ocean County) —REJECTED— Security upgrades, renovations, alterations and improvements at all district schools.
Total amount: $12,580,000
State funds: $5,032,000
Other Ballot Questions In five districts, voters acted on questions related to district or school board operations.
Washington Township (Burlington County) —APPROVED—Voters decided to reduce the number of school board members from seven to five members.
Camden (Camden County) —APPROVED TYPE 2 DISTRICT PROPOSAL— Voters decided that the district should not remain a Type I (mayor-appointed) school district. It will now be a Type II, community-elected board of education.
Newark (Essex County) —APPROVED TYPE 2 DISTRICT PROPOSAL—Voters decided the school district of the city of Newark should become a Type 2, community-elected board of education.
Holland Township (Hunterdon County) —APPROVED—Voters decided to reduce the Holland Township Board of Education from nine members to seven members.
Paterson (Passaic County)—APPROVED TYPE 2 DISTRICT PROPOSAL—Voters decided the school district of the city of Paterson should become a Type 2, community-elected board of education.
All information has been provided from the offices of the county clerk in each county.